Redefining the UGB


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Since its inception in 2004, the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) to the outermost limits of Melbourne, Australia, has undergone several formal amendment (expansion) processes. Change is inherent to this peripheral area where non-urban land is redefined as urban. Also inherent to this edge is an ambiguity, as the UGB is neither marked nor signposted; its exact location is unacknowledged. While the UGB remains a mapped entity with zero thickness, it signifies the site of a threshold condition within a landscape through which the conditions of both urban (suburban, industrial etc.) and non-urban (rural, recreational, etc.) can be observed. This paper presents design research that, through a site-based installation, brings a series of questions relating to the UGB and the threshold it creates into focus. Drawing from the traditions of land-art and guided by the land surveying axiom of ‘monument over measure,’ a section of the UGB is ‘staked out’ using conventional land surveying materials and transforming a mapped element into a physical one. With the UGB located, the site-specific urban/non-urban condition it generates is considered, and in doing so the meaning of the UGB, now as a site, is renewed.